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Jim FOX (b. 1953)
Black Water (1984) [18:05]
Bryan Pezzone (pianos)
rec. July 2006, Architecture, Los Angeles
COLD BLUE MUSIC CB0037 [18:05]

Founder of Cold Blue Music Jim Fox has released numerous works on this label, but this is the first time I have encountered either.
 
Black Water, as with most other Cold Blue releases, appears here as a ‘CD single’, so as far as playing time goes what you see is what you get. The work is for three pianos, all parts taken by the performer Bryan Pezzone. The parts are separated convincingly in the mix. While it is always something of a compromise using the same instrument for a multi-piano work, tending to homogenise sonorities rather than generating character through subtle differences, this is a very minor point which I doubt would concern listeners, let alone critics.
 
Black Water is a dramatic, intense piece in which quasi-tremolando textures form an important element. Harmonies and pedal tones are sustained in this way, as is the feeling of substance and a kind of heroic minimalist romanticism which is both forceful and impressively compelling at the same time. These Cold Blue releases have minimal information about the music or the composer, though Jim Fox does have an extensive website.
 
Everyone will have their own associative words for summing up a work like this. I suppose mine would be ‘symphonic’ and ‘cinematic’, the music having an extrovertly theatrical feel which should appeal to multi-piano performers such as Jeroen van Veen.
 
Black Water is a striking and effective piece which stimulates and deserves repeated hearing.
 
Dominy Clements